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Keeping Your Fans' Data Safe is Part of a Positive Fan Experience

How to protect user data and why it's so important. Featuring Pico's CTO & Founder, Aviv Paz.
Ari Torv

Netflix’s “The Great Hack” says personal data has officially surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset. Let’s be real, all of our data is being mined and stored. So technically speaking, I guess our social media accounts etc. are the real entities that are more valuable than oil. 

However, as unfortunate as it is, our personal data is often not being protected. With breaches in security such as the Yahoo hack in 2014 where over 500 million users were affected, to the First American Financial Corp. breach in 2019  where nearly 1 billion users were affected, and most recently, the platform we hate to love, the Facebook breach of 2019 where over 540 million accounts were affected

Within the sports industry, the Florida Panthers were hit with a class action lawsuit, as they were sending mass amounts of marketing text messages without the consent of their fans. The lawsuit was originally filed by Anita Jairam and Kevin Hillow, but they are not alone in the complaints. Jairam and Hillow claim that they began receiving marketing texts from the Florida Panthers after giving the company their cell phone numbers for a different purpose. Hillow, who originally participated in a student activation sponsored by the team, explained that he was given no option or instructions on how to opt out of the spam messages, and claims that he received more than 30 text messages from the company in just a two-month period.

While it might seem invasive at a glance, sports teams actually do require the personal data of their fans. The reason why our favorite teams are collecting data on us is to better understand us and improve our overall experiences as fan. With consent to collect our data, sports teams can utilize the data can also improve the personalization of our experiences and better measure our needs. Day by day, technology within the sports world is changing the way in which teams and their fans are communicating and of course, engaging

These data and security breaches are happening to some of the largest companies and organizations worldwide, so why is there still such little protection? What are the preventive causes they’re putting into place so our data is not compromised again? As users of platforms, services and more, we expect that our personal data will not be compromised.  

We spoke with Aviv Paz, CTO and Co-Founder of Pico, on the importance of keeping your fans data safe and protected, and the best practices to make sure a breach doesn’t happen to your company. Paz breaks down all of the steps to owning data and how to safely store and utilize this data to meet your true business objectives.

What does owning data really mean?


Owning data means that your fans are also your customers, and to own their data you need to have a CRM or Database  platform in place to store their personal information, transaction, preferences and other insights.

Why is it important to own your fan data?

If you don't own the data of your fans, it’s hard to really know who your fans are. If you don’t know who they are, you can’t really leverage their engagement into a business objective that is meaningful for you and your organization.

What’s the best way to monitor and utilize data?

Utilizing data all lies in the data structure. You need to make sure you store the data that will help you segment and filter your fan base easily.

If you’re just storing the data in spreadsheets or different platforms, you could really then segment your fans and filter the right fan segmentation that will reach your business objective goal.

How can data breaches be avoided? 

There’s really a lot to be said here. But, the basic measures would be to use end-to-end encryption as a policy, encrypt passwords and important information inside the database and allow that only authorized personnel will have direct access to the data.

Why is it so important to have an easy opt-out for fans/users?

At the end of the day you don’t want to spam your fan base. We want to make sure that they actually want to hear, and receive updates, from their favorite team(s).

Unlike any other market, sports fans are engaged by nature and it’s important to make sure that their experience is close to perfect. If for some reason it isn’t, we should provide them with an easy way to opt out of the process.

What can teams do to ensure the safety of their fans’ data?

There are many ways, but we are big fans of following and being GDPR compliant - which helps better align data strategies properly. These are also the strictest data regulations out there today. At Pico we make sure to be GDPR compliant, because all of the teams we work with, especially in Europe, are also actively following the GDPR. If we are not GDPR compliant, we are immediately exposed and  open to major losses, like lawsuits, loss of credibility and more. 

GDPR Protection

All in All

The best way to avoid any concerns your fans or audience might have on how their personal data is being stored and used, is to be transparent and answer their questions. It’s important to educate your fan base and empower them to make smart choices on how they share and manage their own data on the internet. It’s equally as important to fully understand yourself and as an organization, the ways in which you are collecting, storing, sending and repurposing your fan data, especially if you are working with a third party provider. 

If you feel “not great” about the methods in which your organization collects your fan data, you should stop. When in doubt, throw it out. You could be putting not only your organization at risk but also the personal data of your fans. If something were to happen it wouldn’t be hard to lose all credibility from your fans. 

If you have any questions about data security, or want to talk through the methods in which you are currently using, please contact our team to learn more.

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